Not-So-Clearly Marked Markers

, , | Right | February 14, 2020

(I’m at a convention selling art supplies, including special alcohol art markers. For easy calculating, you can say that one art marker is five dollars, five markers has an offer of 20 dollars, and ten markers are 40 dollars. People often find them expensive; we, of course, understand and never pressure anyone. We also sell cases you can save the markers in: a case for 36 markers for ten dollars and a case for 72 markers for 15 dollars — also a special offer. The prices are mentioned near the products.)

Girl: “Wait, a case for 72 markers for 15 dollars?! I have to get that!”

(My father sells her the case; she uses a card, so we get a small fee on our side. The fee is small, so it means less profit for us. It’s a loss we calculated.)

Girl: “Great!” *walks over to me* “Can I see your markers? Which ones do you use the most?” 

(I talk to the girl and she mentions that she really wants the colours I have suggested. Since it’s not uncommon with us for people to buy one thing first and come back later, I’m thinking we’re up for a second sale. The girl starts putting markers in the case. When she reaches a third of the case, I walk to my dad.)

Me: *whispering* “She seems to have quite a budget.”

Father: “Well, she paid with a card; maybe she saved up. That happens pretty often.”

Me: “True.”

(Still, it feels off. The case is now half full. The girl is still happily browsing.) 

Me: “Dad, that’s a lot of markers. I know I shouldn’t judge, but she’s very young. She’s not thinking she gets the case and gets to pick her own markers, right?” 

Father: “Of course not! A single marker is five dollars! Anyone can conclude you can’t get a case of 72 markers for 15 dollars. Of course she knows that!”

(To save time, my father starts calculating the sale price. He has to do this manually, because of the special offers. He comes to a nice amount; a really good value for those markers.) 

Father: “Hey, I went ahead and calculated the sale price for you. If you want, you can pay now and keep on browsing at your own pace.”

(The girl stops and turns pale.)

Girl: “Pay?”

Father: *uneasy* “Yes… for the 72 markers?” 

Girl: “Eh… Oh… I thought… I mean… I misunderstood. I thought… I mean… I’ll put them all back.” 

(It becomes clear that the girl did think she could get hundreds of dollars of value for 15 dollars! My father also expects she will want a refund for the case, so he also takes the money out of our till — we can’t return it to a card. Indeed, she quietly asks if she can return the case, as well. We give the refund, having lost several cents and a lot of time… not to mention that the girl misplaces quite a few markers, so we have to check everything, as well. The second day of the convention, we discuss the event again.)

Me: “I’ll add a disclaimer with the cases: ‘markers not included.’”

Father: “Come on. Surely she is the only one. This won’t happen again.” 

(Later that day:)

Girl #2: “If I get that case for 36, can I pick my own colours or will you pick the colours for me?”

Me: “You can pick your own colours, but just to be clear, the price is for the case only. There are no markers included.” *points at disclaimer*

Girl #2: “I have to pay for the markers separately?!”

(Next convention, the disclaimer will be in bold and red. With arrows. And exclamation marks!)

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